England Test captain Ben Stokes announced a few months back that he will not be playing ODIs as he wants to focus on the other two formats. Stokes had cited England’s cramped schedule as the reason behind his decision to call it quits in the 50-over format. However, with an ODI World Cup around and Stokes still very much in shape to win games for his country, there are chances of the all-rounder taking a U-turn.
Stokes has dropped hint about a possible U-turn on his ODI retirement. The English red-ball skipper dropped a hint ahead of England’s first Test against Pakistan. While revealing that England’s director of cricket Rob Key had floated the idea of an ODI return to him during the training camp in Abu Dhabi last week, Stokes kept suspense on his stance.
"Keysy pulled me to the side in the UAE and as soon as he said '50-over World Cup' I just walked away," said Stokes.
"Who knows? At the moment, being out here, my focus is solely on this series (against Pakistan). But it's one of those things. But who knows how I might feel towards a World Cup at the time. Going to a World Cup is an amazing thing to do, to represent your country. But at the moment I'm not even thinking about that."
Earlier, after Stokes' heroics at the T20 World Cup 2022 wherein he played a match-winning knock of 52* in the final and helped England lift their second T20 WC title, England’s white-ball coach Matthew Mott had requested the all-rounder to reconsider his decision. "It's going to be a World Cup year and we don't play much T20 cricket for a while, but it will be up to him,” Mott had said after Stokes’ heroics in the final.
Notably, Stokes had not played a T20I since March 2021 but the all-rounder played a key role in England’s victory. Stokes scored 110 runs at an average of 36.66 and bagged six wickets. The consensus is that Stokes could play a similar peripheral role ahead of the 2023 50-over World Cup in India. Stokes averages 38.98 and 42.39 (and 74 dismissals), with bat and ball respectively in ODIs.